As little girls, some of us dream of becoming mothers. I don't think we are ever fully prepared for this ride of our lives.
I am a Mom to 2 boys - 21 and 18. The oldest, Casey, is developmentally disabled and was in special education his whole school career. Casey is now attending a community college in a special needs curriculum for Culinary Arts.
As a baby, I noticed that Casey wasn't reaching all the milestones my friend's kids were. A mother's intuition is always right. After many doctor visits and hospital stays across the nation, what I had felt was confirmed. He has an IQ of 67 and has low functioning motor skills. To this day, he can't do one thing most kids can - ride a bike. I remember my own mother saying this one sentence to me - "It is so easy to raise a "normal" kid, but to raise one that is different is spectacular". I had my Oprah "aha" moment. I could not focus on all the things Casey could not do, but on what he could do. As a family, we embraced his limitations. Because we were not afraid to laugh and enjoy his journey - no matter how hard it got- we succeeded. Believe me, there were some dark days, but his smile and tenacity got me through it. I am the woman I am today because of Casey. Here are some things I have learned over the years:
1. Never compare your children to their siblings or peers.
2. At times, 2 steps forward could mean 3 steps back in the future.
3. Surround yourself with positive people. No woe is me attitude. It gets you nowhere.
4. Nothing you did caused your child's disability.
5. Embrace their journey.
6. Even if you can't - LAUGH. Laugh at the mistakes you will make and the accomplishments.
Funny story about Casey. This will explain it all. He is in a self contained classroom and they are having a fire drill. His teacher calls me and informs me school is in lockdown because they can't find Casey. The whole school is on the front lawn while the fire department and police arrive. Casey had been hiding the whole time in a closet in his classroom. He comes home and I proceed to ask him what happened in school today. His response - "We had a fire drill. I hid in the closet. Did you think I was going to go out in the rain". No filter and I think he is the smartest one in our family.